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Pipeline to the Games

Ski halfpipe team hosts camp in Whistler to train for upcoming qualifiers

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D'Artois, who has also competed in the past in other events like slopestyle, said he's not sure why he picked halfpipe to specialize in, but he was attracted to the extremely technical nature of the sport.

"It's pretty exciting," he said. "Recently I've had a little bit of fear to get over, the fear of landing on the deck or at the bottom of the pipe, because it's such a small gap — you have to land within two feet (of the top of the transition) or you're a little bit screwed, so it's tough.

"If I were to choose one aspect of skiing to really focus on, I guess it would have to be halfpipe because it's pretty technical and there's a lot to learn. But I definitely like to keep up all the other aspects of skiing for fun so I don't ruin skiing entirely for myself."

If D'Artois doesn't qualify for X Games at Copper, then he'll compete at the North Face Park and Pipe series in Whistler the following week where there's at least one spot up for grabs. As well, he's looking ahead to Russia, the next Grand Prix and a few World Cup events that he'd like to do well at.

"I definitely have a ways to go," he said. "The top guys really have experience and time in the pipe, and it's that that's really going to separate the best from all the good guys — time in the pipe and getting tricks down so I feel as comfortable as I can riding the halfpipe."

For Noah Bowman, who stunned the world with second place finishes at X Games and the Mammoth Grand Prix last year, all the Olympic pressure and the pressure of representing his country is a good thing.

"I kind of feed off of pressure, I like it — and it's kind of cool to be representing your country," he said. "It's a year out from Sochi and you can feel the buildup, for sure. This is our qualifying year. We have to start doing well and get those results. It does add some pressure, but you learn to deal with it."

Daily updates from the Copper Mountain Grand Prix will be posted at http://usfreeskiing.com.

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